Results of a community survey of Saco residents and business owners were released last month. Shawn Patrick Ouellette Photo/Portland Press Herald

SACO — In all, 97 percent of respondents to a city-wide Saco survey indicated the quality of life was very good or good, while 95.1 percent of business owners reported the same.

As well, 92 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed that they felt safe in the city, and 86.2 percent said they believed residents care about each other.

About 81.7 percent said they were hopeful about the future of Saco as a community.

Those were among a host of responses gathered by the Center for Research & Public Policy on a community satisfaction survey. The results were presented to Saco City Council last month.

Among other responses was that 95. 6 percent of those who took part in the survey said Saco was a good place to raise children.

Survey takers also outlined concerns in several areas. The top five were taxes in general and for those on fixed incomes; traffic, congestion, and speeding; general school concerns; the pace of development and home affordability.


Notices were distributed by the United States Postal Service to 10,315 residents, post office boxes and businesses in Saco through Every Door Direct Mailing, which encouraged participation in the survey. The survey was open Aug. 29 through Sept. 19 through either an online link or paper versions offered at four pick-up locations throughout the community.

Saco received 931 completed surveys, with an associated margin for error of plus or minus 3.12 percent at a 95 percent confidence level, according to Brooke Mitchell, president the Center for Research and Public Policy.

While the numbers were high — 97 and 95 percent of residents agreeing that Saco was a good place to live and raise children, the numbers dropped somewhat, to just under 79 percent for the city being a good place to work,  just under 75 percent for being a good place to own a business, and just under 76 percent as a good place to retire.

The survey asked respondents why they chose to move to or continue to live in Saco. In all, 58.7 percent of residents chose the city because of proximity to work or the highway system; 54.7 percent because of the neighborhood they live in; 42.3 percent because of the community feeling and city character; 41.3 percent, proximity to the ocean; 40.5 percent, birthplace, or nearby family; 32.3 percent, school system, and so on. Only 3.9 percent chose Saco because of its property tax rate; and 14.5 percent because of affordability, the survey noted, along with other findings.

In all, 57 percent of residents, and 49.4 percent of business owners or managers expressed satisfaction with the city government.

More than 98 percent of residents were very or somewhat satisfied with fire and ambulance services, 92.9 percent city clerk services, 89.2 percent with wastewater treatment services, 87.4 percent with vehicle registration and tax payments, and 85.6 percent with public safety. Other municipal departments received marks in the 70 and 80 percent range and included public works, social services, the assessing office, administration, and code enforcement. Traffic enforcement and management earned a 55.1 percent satisfaction figure, economic development, 53 percent by residents and 43.9 percent by business owners and managers. Residents said they were 50.1 percent satisfied or somewhat satisfied with planning; with 39.1 percent business owners saying the same.


More than 50 percent of residents and business owners said there were too few restaurants, arts venues, employment opportunities, housing and general retail and shopping areas.

In communications, residents and business owners said they preferred the monthly city newsletter or city website for information on city happenings.

“I’ve always found community input and feedback to be incredibly useful and it’s important for residents to feel their local government is accessible and responsive to citizen concerns,” said city Administrator Bryan Kaenrath in an email. “We got some great feedback. I’d like us to do another one within a couple of years and keep this sort of feedback going. The good news is overall residents gave Saco very high marks and our overall satisfaction is high. We will certainly take some of the areas of top concern and keep them on the front burner as we make future decisions impacting the community. It was overall a really great exercise and thanks to everyone for participating.”

“Our team at CRPP has appreciated the opportunity to work with the city of Saco and its community,” Mitchell said. “It’s encouraging to Saco to have many residents and business owners participate in an open and inclusive process that provides both positive and constructive feedback. Having a pulse on the community allows the doors to remain open for valuable communication and a prioritized future.”

To find the complete survey, go to the link:

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: